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Implementing AI and data analytics across the talent lifecycle

By Kevin Pennington, Robert Tate, Brandon Yerre; PwC US Principals, Consulting Solutions | Published: Oct. 28, 2023 | Read time: 5 minutes

Modernizing talent management with an AI-enabled skills-based approach 

In the first part of this article series, you took the first steps toward a skills-based talent strategy. In part two, we delved into cultivating a culture that values skills first to help meet increasingly complex technologies and business challenges. Now, in part three of our building a skills-based organization series, we’ll discuss how AI and data analytics can be connected across your talent lifecycle to help systematically — and consistently — extend skills-first practices throughout your organization.   

Connecting AI end-to-end across talent management 

One of the central issues plaguing CEOs and C-suite leaders is the drive to reinvent their organizations, all while recognizing that these efforts hinge on the support and engagement of their workforce. This challenge can become more pronounced in an environment where skill gaps are widening and budgets are tightening. This often pushes organizations to do more with less, even beyond areas where they have already tightened budgets. The majority of Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) feel the pressure, with 87% saying they’re evaluating new ways to deliver HR value at a lower cost with a greater focus on the employee experience and the implementation of generative AI (GenAI).  

AI can help an organization do more at scale, especially when it’s embedded as a through-line in a skills-based talent strategy and talent management technologies. Eighty-four percent of CHROs are increasing investments in skills-based talent architecture and AI can help address some of their biggest barriers to obtaining high-quality data analytics and insights for transforming recruiting, employee upskilling and employee retention. 

Leaders who are all-in on AI are twice as likely to report substantial value from AI initiatives in improving productivity, decision-making, employee experience and more. AI-enabled systems can work nonstop, analyzing and acting on data from inside and outside the organization. And when these systems encompass data, automation and business priorities, they help talent strategy drive more smoothly, end-to-end. 

AI on the front-lines: Talent acquisition and onboarding 

Eighty-three percent of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) say hiring and retaining talent is key to growth. Yet, when it comes to traditional recruitment methods, recruiters are often tasked with mannually creating job postings, scheduling interviews, and onboarding candidates. Not only can this process be laborious and consume valuable time, but it can also entail substantial financial costs as a result of roles sitting vacant for too long. Rushing through recruitment, driven by urgency, can lead to unsuitable candidate fits and subsequently higher turnover rates, leading to a double-edged sword for many organizations. AI can cut through these challenges. 

At the heart of AI's transformative power lies its ability to harness vast amounts of data, enabling organizations to make informed decisions in real time. This can translate into a broad impact on recruitment, onboarding and employee experience.  

AI-driven talent acquisition systems, through the utilization of natural language processing and machine learning, can analyze and extract key identifiers for the most pertinent qualifications for a given role and even generate an initial assessment and ranking, expediting the identification of well-suited individuals. And with the right combination of AI, human interaction and personalized upskilling, HR teams can contribute to a more equitable and unbiased selection process. 

AI can also help enhance the candidate experience. By leveraging generative AI to create virtual assistants, HR professionals can provide real-time updates on application statuses and deliver personalized job recommendations. This can reduce candidate effort and also contributes overall to a more positive candidate journey. And for high-quality candidates that do not get the job they applied for, AI can automatically re-engage them into other similar roles that they might be a fit for.  

Mobilizing HR with the right data

In our daily lives, we often willingly share our data to enhance AI-driven recommendations and personalized experiences, ranging from movie suggestions to online shopping. It begs the question: why not apply similar concepts in the workplace? What if your HR teams could tap into the wealth of external workforce data available in the market, access deeper insights and map decisions against your employees’ skills, qualifications and interests? 

With human capital management (HCM) serving as the employee system of record, organizations can establish a business strategy that facilitates new personalized AI-powered experiences while keeping in lockstep with external market factors like employment rates, in-demand skills or headcount ratios.  

There may be one issue. The data that could help arm HR with AI-driven decisions is traditionally housed in a closed operating system — for good reason — to help improve security and data privacy. The challenge lies in finding a solution that opens up the architecture to leverage the benefits of both worlds while maintaining a high level of trust. The good news is that you don’t need to invest in a new HCM platform or put your employee data at risk. Platforms that help perform benchmarking analyses, employee surveys and AI-enabled upskilling can be added to your HR’s ecosystem of technology without disrupting your current business operations. 

Products like Saratoga, a PwC product allows you to compare and assess your workforce metrics against internal benchmarks and industry peers. Saratoga pulls years worth of data from over 400 companies, 20 industries and over 1,000 metrics, so you can align insights to your unique position and strategy for more holistic action planning. Listen Platform, a survey and people analytics digital platform, enables organizations to gather, analyze, interpret and act on feedback from employees and ProEdge, another PwC product, can help you understand your people’s skills — and gaps — and provide them with personalized and engaging learning tools.  

These AI-powered, externally tapped-in products can help boost HR's ability to make informed decisions, transcend siloed data and foster a more transparent, equitable and dynamic work environment for employees.  

Upskilling employees intelligently 

Efficiency remains crucial in the business world, where time is all valuable – 77% of CHROs say they’re hiring fewer new employees today than they were 12 months ago. And instead of repeating past cycles of hiring followed by layoffs, they're focusing on strategically developing and retaining their current talent by prioritizing upskilling initiatives. At least 26% of CHROs are adding upskilling programs to address redistributed job functions.  

Leveraging AI to enhance the alignment between individuals and learning opportunities based on their skills, while also assisting businesses in prioritizing efforts that can directly contribute to their bottom line, can be key to success. Traditional learning methods often fall short as they tend to offer the same learning experiences to everyone, regardless of their specific needs. The true return on investment lies in enhancing the hours invested in learning activities that can have a tangible impact on the business. 

AI can play a pivotal role in driving ROI and its customization abilities can help establish learning efforts that are not a detached exercise but a strategic driver that’s directly tied to organizational goals.  

A fundamental aspect of AI-powered solutions is their ability to empower individuals to thoroughly  assess their skills. By analyzing resumes and extracting skills data, AI-enabled upskilling solutions can help create a complete skills profile for each employee. And much like it does for backoffice talent management, AI can leverage job market data to align these profiles with current industry demands and use this information to build personalized learning plans that can meet employees where they are and are designed for where they want to go. This adaptive approach to learning can help your organization surpass a traditional one-size-fits-all learning model, fostering a more agile and versatile workforce that’s likely ready for the future. 

AI can also help your employees learn more, well, AI. Chances are your employees are already experimenting with AI outside of work. You can channel that energy by bringing AI in, as an official credential in digital upskilling. And many employees are ready, with 52% stating they believe AI will have a positive impact on their careers. Twenty-seven percent believe that AI will provide opportunities for them to learn new skills. 

Supporting an AI-enabled ecosystem  

The exponential growth of AI in consumer technology has helped pave the way for its adoption in the business evironment, helping to open up a realm of opportunities to operate faster, more intelligently and more effectively.  

Many industry leaders have drawn parallels between AI and the next industrial revolution, indicating the transformative impact it is starting to have on the workplace. As businesses continue to incorporate AI into their operations, we are starting to see a wave of exciting changes that can revolutionize the employee experience. This integration of AI has the potential to bring about significant advancements, enhancing productivity while fostering a more dynamic and engaging work environment. 

In this context, the notion of an ecosystem of technologies, as opposed to a one-stop-shop approach, can be crucial. AI can be used for its slices of capabilities — it doesn’t need to take the whole pie. This can allow you to leverage AI's potential without disrupting day-to-day operations or putting data at risk. AI-powered solutions like ProEdge were designed with existing technology in mind and offers a safeguarded, holistic approach to support your organization where automation and personalization is needed. 

Closing the loop on the talent lifecycle 

The need for AI throughout the talent lifecycle has likely never been more pronounced. It emerges as the linchpin in addressing the multifaceted challenges that today’s organizations face. From identifying skills gaps and enabling HR decision-making to offering personalized learning, AI can help drive decisions and talent management through more data mining, analytics and automation. And it can do this while allowing your organization to remain agile and resilient.   

Leverage tech towards a skills-based talent strategy

ProEdge  Close skills gaps with personalized, AI-generated learning pathways and visibility into workers’ upskilling journeys. ProEdge provides highly targeted curated content, function-specific experiences and industry-recognized credentials through an approach based on our proprietary skills framework and the latest learning methodologies.  

Listen Platform  Set your skills-based approach on a course for success. Listen Platform is a survey and analytics product that helps you understand your employees’ opinions, attitudes and experiences. AI-driven analytics and business linkages, with configurable dashboards and reports, help you quickly uncover areas of opportunity within your workforce.   

Saratoga  Inform your skills-based strategy using data, amid a rapidly changing world of work. Saratoga is a benchmarking platform covering 40+ years of history and measurement from over 2,000 clients globally to help compare your organization to industry peers for deeper insights into your workforce.  

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